By Richard Mirgon, Public Safety Consultant
Several years ago, there was a company called LightSquared that some of you may recall and prior to that name they were known as Sky Terra. This company operated satellites that would be used for land-based LTE Communications. It turns out this spectrum and these satellites interfered with GPS. After some reports of interference and significant testing they found that their signal interfered with and had negative impacts on the Department of Defense, aviation, and public safety, to name a few. Part of the problem is that P25 systems use GPS to sync the networks and the interference could cause the networks to fail. In 2012 the FCC suspended indefinitely the authorization to operate because of this harmful interference. That same year LightSquared filed for bankruptcy.
Well they are back as Ligado Networks https://ligado.com/ and they have approval from the FCC https://www.fiercewireless.com/regulatory/ligado-finally-gets-a-light-and-it-s-green to operate. I find it interesting that after all the commotion with interference the company has not reached out to public safety simply to brief public safety and explain why it is different today. As we learned with rebanding, waiting to resolve interference after the fact is costly.
As you can see this is a little out of my swim lane these days since I focus on FirstNet, but back when I was President of APCO we were heavily engaged with LightSquared and we were very concerned. None of this may be a problem but someone needs to ask the questions and get the answers so it won’t be a problem. APCO has noted this in their membership minutes. As I recall NPSTC was engaged in the past and we need to support both organizations engagement with this. Public Safety needs to dig deeper than just monitoring. As I noted, if we wait too long it becomes another rebanding nightmare. Public Safety must do their own testing and dig deeper into Ligado’s game plan and to assess any risk to public safety networks.
Richard Mirgon is a Public Safety consultant focused on FirstNet. He is a Past President of APCO International and has over 35 years of public safety and first responder experience. For more information about the author please go to http://www.next-paradigm.com/about/
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this company or any company with whom the author may be associated.